Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mind Change Day 18: Taste, Posture and Blink

I do believe in what Dr. Hanscom says about positive psychology: if it's bad, it's bad, and sugar coating it is just being dishonest with yourself, but having positive experiences when you have a choice is crucial.

And I think that when you have an experience that could be interpreted one of two ways (I did okay; I messed up) then focusing on the more positive side is the way to go, assuming the situation is interpretable either way.

As most situations are.

I went to Providence this weekend with one of my daughters, to see another for Family Weekend. The plan had been for my husband Mark to come but he was trapped at work and rather than agonize over whether there was any way to pick the lock and free him (unlikely), I said okay, I'll miss you but I'll be fine.

After the fact, this could be seen as either positive thinking, an affirmation, or the truth, depending on your standard of "okay." As I said to my Mom on Friday during an impromptu scrapbooking crop, I like using the "well, at least no bones were broken, no malignancies found." But that is a bit dishonest.

In truth, it was a struggle, as are most days. Why not have these struggling days in Providence?

So yesterday's awareness was focused on sights, and that was super-fun. My favorite post by far.

Today I decided to be more aware of taste, and that was easy. I like eating, and drinking, and Sunday has extra servings of breakfast, which is my favorite meal. This was fantastic:

from Nick's on Broadway brunch, thank you very much
But you only eat for about an hour a day (even if you mindfully savor slow food; the tasting itself is intermittent) so I doubled-up on other sensations.

Posture, for one. I realized a few months ago that I look down a lot these days. Hunching over even led to some arm pain and tingling from curved shoulders so I am much more mindful of having shoulders back and chin high. Helps my back and my confidence and my observations.

So when I misjudged the distance of the restaurant (by a lot) and it was cold (and we walked), there was a showdown outside the restaurant over the dilemma, which was:
  • walking a couple of miles instead of a couple of blocks made us irritable, and cold
  • the wait for seating was 45-60 minutes, and there was little room inside to stand (my oldest daughter reminded me there would have been no wait if I had read more carefully where the restaurant was and drove us here before the crowds descended)
  • one of my daughters had on a down vest...and a t-shirt. Walking hadn't been terrible (she said, after being reminded to dress warmer but that was when we thought it was a few blocks) but standing outside was a problem.
  • the restaurant looked delicious, and very, very crowded
  • we hadn't seen other breakfast options on the walk there, nor did any pop up on our smartphones when we searched
  • some of us needed coffee very badly, and hadn't slept well, and there was no coffee nearby anywhere else either
By my definition, this was bad.

But one of the things I've been working on lately is snap decisions. When I ponder, I have a hard time making the best decision. Often it's an impulsive one impatiently when I run out of time or others run out of patience. But--oddly--when I make a snap decision it seems pretty close to what I would have done pre-PCS. That is, my "conscious" thinking is chunka-chunka but my "background" thinking is almost unaffected. I re-read Blink and its helped me reprogram my brain. Thinking and overthinking are--in my experience--one and the same, currently.

So I blinked at an assault of daughterly misery in front of this restaurant, along the lines of "let's just go, I can't wait here, I'm cold, it's too long, this was dumb," etc. 

And I felt my shoulders bowing forward, my chin dropping. 

So I shot them backward and said "I'm staying. You should too. We're hungry. This is our best bet." I also offered to go back and get the car during the wait so the girls wouldn't have to walk back in the cold, as penance. They said if I did that they'd follow because they didn't trust me to get to the hotel by myself. Insulting, since it was a straight line there, but we were embroiled in battle. Gauntlets are thrown. 

Shoulders back, chin high, I shrugged and went to wait inside the crowded entryway. My oldest daughter yelled "Hey, you hate crowds. You'll hate it in there." And I thought "okay, there are two ways to look at this. One is that I'm in a crowd and I made a mistake and I'm tired and cold and a mess. There other is that I made a decision, almost effortlessly, and apologized, and offered to make amends, and all along acted the role of a competent parent. No one could tell from looking at us that I'm not...No, I am a competent parent. A hungry one." 

And I sat down on the edge of a magazine pile and pulled out a book, and played with a baby waiting with her parents next to me, and ignored the cranky teens. 

Lo and behold, 30 minutes later I was drinking delicious coffee from cool "illy" mugs, and talking with my daughters like pretty-much nothing bad had happened. Watching what others ordered. Studying the whiskey choices (purely wishful thinking), listening to the whiskey convo going on between the bartender and the couple next to me (which I didn't consciously retain but still taught me something I'm sure I'll use in some way), talking politics and courses and study abroad and needed winter gear with my beloved daughter in college. 

How would I characterize the next hour we sat there and chatted and savored? Pretty great. 

How would I characterize the weekend? Pretty great. 

Head held high.

I'm not denying there were tense moments, but overall I blink and choose the upside over the down.

Love, Lisa




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